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On The Firing Line BY JP O’CONNOR


Physical - Mental - Technical - Emotional Part 2 (56th in a series)


“Correct technology and technique are critical to success; Clearly necessary, but not suffi cient by themselves.” Champion athletes bring


together an effective blend of physical, technical, men- tal, and emotional aspects of performance in order to thrive and excel under pres- sure. In the previous article, we touched briefl y on many of the physical aspects of the sport. Now we turn our attention to the next impor- tant major area, some of the technical parts of the sport.


Technical Each of the three Olympic


shooting disciplines have demanding requirements around technology, posi- tions and technique. A quick glance at a target


rifl e makes it obvious that there are numerous adjust- ments, each of which must be optimized for the athlete. There are many different styles of rifl e, stock, butt plate, sights, and numerous accessories. Pistols have far fewer adjustments, though there are still adjustments to sight radius, sight widths, and any number of varia- tions in grip design, setup, and customization. Shotgun may appear to the uniniti- ated to be rather “simplis- tic” in comparison, until one learns about all the factors involved in fi tting the shot- gun to the athlete. All three disciplines have varying adjustments for trig-


ger placement and trigger setup. Many athletes get caught in the trap of eter- nally adjusting and chang- ing their fi rearm in search of those next few points. True, the fi rearm must be prop- erly adjusted and fi tted in order to excel. Once a solid baseline is established, the athlete must then leave well enough


alone, train and


compete, and then make ad- justments only when there is a clear reason to make a specifi c change. Proper positions, initially


covered in the previous ar- ticle, excellent balance, and proper natural point of aim are also critical to success. First, the technical aspects of positions are explored. Rifl e tends to have very


detailed, technical positions due to the nature of the po- sitions and the rifl e. Athletes who have a standing position with lots of “banana back” where the hips are well out over the toes and the shoul- ders are back over the heels are going to have signifi cant back problems in the future as well as have to constantly fi ght a very “springy” posi- tion. Even if the position is mostly upright, twisting the hips around toward the tar- get, even a small amount, also results in a “springy” position. The most impor- tant fundamental of any po-


32 USA Shooting News | May 2014


sition is the use of bone and ligament instead of muscle and tendon in building the position. Pistol positions appear


simple at fi rst. Though much more Spartan than rifl e, pistol positions also require proper use of the physiol- ogy. The support arm must use muscle in a way that minimizes fatigue and maxi- mizes stability. The majority of pistol shooters use a po- sition where the heels are directly in line toward the target. Others fi nd that a roughly 20 to 30 degree turn toward the target is best for them. Ideally, heels, hips, and shoulders are all on the same plane. Work with your coach, experiment, and trust your instincts. Shotgun also appears to


be quite simple, though one cannot just randomly walk up and shoot well! Indeed, it should be very simple and natural, yet the proper setup is required to allow smooth movements. The position and orientation of the feet, details of the stance, weight distribution, and of the over- all position, set the stage for a successful, fl owing, and confi dent shot. Balance is known to be


very important, yet the tech- niques of understanding and properly affecting bal- ance are not always under- stood. When standing natu- rally, most people have their feet pointed a bit toward ei- ther side. Thus, the feet are not parallel and the toes are farther apart than the heels. This results in a stance that is dynamic and has the bal- ance point roughly between the heels and the balls of the feet. In this stance, there is some natural body sway. By maintaining the balance roughly in the middle of the foot there is no danger of falling over, yet there can be signifi cant sway. For rifl e and pistol shooting, with their upright and static standing positions, putting most of the weight on the


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